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Oct. 3, 2003

Limbaugh Signs Off

by Vivek Chellappa, Page Editor
In just the fourth week of a young NFL season, political-hardliner and new football commentator Rush Limbaugh already made comments many fans feared he would make. Limbaugh's racist comments towards Philadelphia Eagles star Donovan McNabb only cost him a job, but his thoughtless words will hurt ESPN and professional football.

It wasn't difficult to take offense with his comments. During the ESPN NFL pregame show, Hall of Fame-bound, Steven Young, questioned quarterback Donovan McNabb's ability to run the Philadelphia offense. Limbaugh cut in, expressing his sentiments about the success of McNabb.

“I think the sum of what you're all saying is that Donavan McNabb is regressing, he's going backward," Limbaugh said. “Sorry to say this, I don't think he's been that good from the get-go."

Point made. However, Limbaugh, as anyone who has listened to his radio show should know, didn't stop there.

"The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. There is a little hope invested in McNabb and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn't deserve. The defense carried this team."

There isn't a shoe in the world that could fill his mouth. Not since Limbaugh told an African-American caller on his radio show to "take that bone out of your nose and call me back," has he offended so many people at the same time. Also in his portfolio of racism is the following: "[African-Americans are] 12 percent of the population. Who the hell cares?"

The point is that Rush Limbaugh has a history of questionable comments. The decision to hire Limbaugh by ESPN reflected the decision to bypass ethics in order to attract Limbaugh's huge fan base. If it weren't for Limbaugh's quick resignation, all hell would have broken loose.

The near-immaculate slate of ESPN was tarnished by Limbaugh's comments. The number of viewers Limbaugh may have brought would have been irrelevant had some of the scheduled boycotts begun. The Reverend Al Sharpton had already called for a boycott of ABC, and two presidential candidates, Wesley Clark and Howard Dean, called for Limbaugh's removal.

"I'm going to call for ESPN to terminate Rush Limbaugh as we've seen other networks terminate people for racist remarks in the past," Sharpton threatened. "I'm shocked that we're at Wednesday and we have not seen an apology from Mr. Limbaugh. We cannot sit back in silence. That would be consent and we would have lost self-respect."

In an era when the Detroit Lions were fined $200,000 for not interviewing a minority candidate, Limbaugh's comments were particularly distasteful. McNabb's performance over the last three years has been nothing short of incredible; McNabb has been able to carry an average offensive team to success.

Thankfully, for ESPN's sake, fellow commentator Tom Jackson admirably rose to McNabb's defense, voicing many of the opinions of many listeners. He shot back at Limbaugh, "somebody went to those championship games, somebody went to those Pro Bowls, somebody made those plays that I saw, running down the field, doing it with his legs, doing it with his arm. He has been a very effective quarterback for this football team over the last two or three years."

McNabb is aware that he until last week, he had not been performing to his usual level. "I know I played badly the first two games," he said. However, McNabb himself seemed amazed more than anything that such a comment would be said at all. "It's somewhat shocking to hear that on national TV from him," McNabb said Wed, Oct 1. "It's not something that I can sit here and say won't bother me." McNabb answered press questions with obvious restraint. Teammates were not so kind.

Eagles defensive end N.D. Kalu pointed out that "[Limbaugh] speaks well, he's well-read, but he's an idiot."

Limbaugh himself has still offered no apologies.

"This is such a mountain out of a molehill," he said before he resigned. "There's no racism here, there's no racist intent whatsoever. "All this has become the tempest that it is because I must have been right about something," Limbaugh continued on his radio show. "If I wasn't right, there wouldn't be this cacophony of outrage that has sprung up in the sportswriter community. There's no racism here. There's no racist intent whatsoever."

Even as Limbaugh resigned by releasing a statement, he still admitted no fault.
"My comments this past Sunday were directed at the media and were not racially motivated," Limbaugh said in a statement. "I offered an opinion. This opinion has caused discomfort to the crew, which I regret.

ESPN’s response to this disaster will be scrutinized by the entire country. Who they hire to fill Limbaugh’s shoes, and how they publicly address the issue will greatly dictate the future success of the network.

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  • *sigh* on October 3, 2003
    Before you pass judgements on this situation, think about this.

    A black commentator says that a white basketball player is overrated because the media wants a good white basketball player. Is he a racist?
  • KC Costanza on October 4, 2003
    Yes, in todays society, if a member of the media wants to keep his job, he will keep race out of the situation all together. but in sigh's situation, the commentator would be right.
    See: Jeremy Shockey, Jason Williams (the white one), the movie The Great White Hope etc
  • what? on October 4, 2003
    obviously he would be..
    it's happened before with black players talking about larry bird in the 80's...
  • dan mo (View Email) on February 9, 2005 at 11:01 PM
    Rush Limbaugh thinks Donavan McNabb is overrated as the quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles. Rush also believes the media is dominated by left-leaning liberals who, by their very nature, are, shall we say, abundantly conscientious and sensitive of social issues. This prevailing characteristic, thinks Limbaugh, is so strong it permeates their being and precipitates their thinking. Broadcasters just might have hidden agendas, even if they are not aware of it. Rush believes this entrenched characteristic has skewed the media’s perception of African-American athletes, such as McNabb. Let’s go with Rush for a moment. Is it possible the left has become so assured, so self-adulating of their own acumen regarding racial dynamics, they have blindly become preferential to minorities? Is it possible that liberal participants of the media are racially biased themselves, unable to fairly evaluate an African-American athlete out of fear of violating their own code of ethics? Are they able to discern and separate their deep-rooted liberal ideology from professional and accurate news reporting? I don't know. But moreover, if someone merely asks the above questions, or even believes them affirmatively, should we automatically conclude he/she is a racist? I think not. But by observing the reaction from Rush Limbaugh’s recent statements, one might easily assume “yes”. Rush said, "I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well.” Clearly, Rush is indicting the media for advancing its social/liberal posture. He thinks the media is liberal to the point of activism or bias. He may be wrong here. But the eruptive response ironically seems to propel his statements as accurate. The reaction has been, “What does Rush mean by this? He must be a racist!! Can’t you see? RACIST! RACIST! RACIST!!!! Rush should be FIRED!!” Let’s review some of the statements made immediately following the controversy. “Mr. Limbaugh should be fired immediately”, said presidential candidate Wesley Clark. Warren Moon said, “And if he doesn't come with the apology, then I think he should be fired …” Reverend Al Sharpton said, “I'm going to call for ESPN to terminate Rush Limbaugh …” The NAACP also condemned Limbaugh's remarks, calling them "bigoted and ignorant." You see, apparently to liberals, there is no room for diverse opinions when it comes to race related issues. They seemingly own the "market" of racial sensitivity and they surely don't like it when someone else butts-in on their issue. While liberals clamor over the values of diversity, they have decided they shall be the one's who dictate the terms of engagement, no one else. Liberals also seem to think they have an iron clad grip on what constitutes racism and what doesn’t. Apparently Rush’s indictment on the media simply didn’t make it through their racism filter. This sent them off. This kind of thinking reminds me of fascism, where there just isn’t any room those who don’t fall in line. It is as if they are saying, “Anyone who thinks differently than us should be FIRED! Crucify him! Crucify him! We have a social agenda here and your kind doesn't fit in!" And the pro-liberal bias does seem apparent. Paula Zahn of CNN framed the segment as a free speech issue, as if the racist component was not in question; “Is he guilty of spewing racist thoughts or just practicing free speech?” The message she sends is clear, “Rush said some racially offensive things. Tune in and find out!!” We’ve seen this before. Remember Trent Lott? His off-the-cuff comments didn’t make it through the liberal-racism filter either. It cost him his job. Finally, I must ask myself, “Was Rush being insensitive here?” Perhaps he was, but maybe not to African-Americans. If Rush owes an apology perhaps it should be to Donovan McNabb. McNabb doesn’t deserve to have his on-field performance skewed from the prism of race. But then, maybe that was Rush’s point.
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